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© 2023 The Denyce Graves Foundation

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Our Federal tax ID is 86-2276658. 

The Denyce Graves Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. 


A Conservatory of music is an institution for education in musical performance and composition. Originally to train musicians for public performance, they eventually expanded the curriculum to include composition, instrumental and vocal technique and acting. 

The first Conservatories in the United States were Oberlin Conservatory located in Oberlin, Ohio established in 1865 and Peabody Conservatory located in Baltimore, Maryland classes starting in 1868. The benefits of attending a Music Conservatory is the ability to focus specifically on your major, opportunities to perform in full-length productions, and receive weekly one-on-one lessons and coaching along with numerous performance opportunities. 

The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, a private, independent conservatory, was founded in 1865 in Oberlin, Ohio and, two years later, it became a part of Oberlin College.  The College, which was originally established as the Oberlin Collegiate Institute in 1833, was renamed Oberlin College in 1850. Now, Oberlin, a private liberal arts college and conservatory, is among the inaugural participants in the Denyce Graves Foundation's Shared Voices. 


The Institute was founded by a Presbyterian minister, the Reverend John J. Shipherd, and a missionary, Philo P. Stewart, who decided to create a college and a colony based on their religious beliefs in the town of Oberlin.  The college and community thrived on progressive causes and social justice initiatives and was a stop on the Underground Railroad during the 1840s and 1850s.  From its founding, Oberlin was co-educational and was the first American co-educational college.  Beginning in 1835, the college regularly admitted black students. Once the conservatory was acquired by the college in 1865, it was recognized as the first conservatory in the United States to admit African-American students.

In 1887, Harriet Gibbs Marshall was the first African-American person to graduate from Oberlin Conservatory.  She subsequently founded the Conservatory of Music and School of Self-Expression in 1903 in Washington, DC, which ultimately became the School of Music at Howard University.

Oberlin is listed as a National Historic Landmark for its significance in social progress.  In 2009, Oberlin Conservatory was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor awarded by the United States government to artists and arts patrons. Denyce Graves is one of Oberlin's distinguished alumni.  Other alumni of note are Edith Player Brown, Dorothy DeLay, Jeremy Denk, Du Yun, and Cheryl Studer.   



Your generous donation to the Denyce Graves Foundation supports our efforts in bringing Shared Voices to more of our nation’s vocal arts programs, to enrich the lives of more students, and help encourage a cultural landscape within the vocal arts at American universities that reflects the diverse world in which we live.


The Denyce Graves Foundation is proud to partner with the following Music Conservatories for the 2022 - 2023 Shared Voices program. Click on each institution's logo to learn more. 

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